Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

This morning I was reading an article in Christianity Today (March 2010) about evangelizing the deaf, one video at a time. So I went on-line to look at the ministry started by David and Ruby Stecca, Deaf Video Communications (DVC). They began the ministry in their basement in 1983, and today have a broadcast quality studio with $300,000 of video equipment. They have produced almost 500 videos of Bible stories, sermons, dramas, and marriage counseling sessions as well as children's programing. The roots of this actually go back to a domestic dispute when David was a policeman and responded to a fight between deaf parents. He learned ASL and later left his job to begin this ministry.

Christianity began as The Word, spoken and written, but both leave many deaf without the gospel. What a wonderful use of modern technology.

DVC History

Also, yesterday I came across the website for Shepherd's College for the Developmentally Disabled. Here's another mission field right at home to reach a group most churches miss. Located in Wisconsin, it's a 3 year program focusing on life skills and two career paths, culinary arts and horticulture. This college is an outgrowth of a Sunday School class started over 50 years ago by Sheperd's Ministries.
    Shepherds Ministries has traditionally focused on a residential home for severely disabled adults. At a chapel service for these residents, audience members share something in common besides their various disabilities: age. The contrast between the fresh-faced, high-functioning students of Shepherds College, and the gray-haired, often severely disabled clients of Shepherds Ministries is crystal clear. Many of these residents have lived here for over 30 years, a legacy of a different era. Shepherds was built and expanded throughout the '50s, '60s, and '70s, a time when institutionalization was the national model. Children were labeled "retarded" and hidden away. In the '80s and '90s, the approach changed as parents more often kept their children at home. Special education programs in public schools helped make it possible for parents of developmentally disabled children to keep their families intact. As the population living at Shepherds grew older, new admissions slowed to a trickle. "Shepherds was guilty of trying to keep the old way intact," William Amstutz, President of Shepherds Ministries, said. "If we would have continued on as we were, we would have aged out." Shepherds College is perhaps the ultimate realization of the new goal of helping the developmentally disabled reach independence rather than institutionalization. Although it is located on the same property and run by Shepherds Ministries, the program is otherwise completely separate from the programs for the more severely disabled residents. It helps to fill a new gap in the social safety net, the transition between graduation from a high-school special education program to work and independent living.

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